The Acoustic Music Archive

Isle of France - Chords, Lyrics and Origins


A traditional folk song from England, 'Isle of France' was performed memorably by Nic Jones. It tells the story of a transported convict who, near the end of his sentence, and on his journey home, is shipwrecked. He is befriended by a coastguard. The coastguard writes a letter to the Queen, and the convict is released: a sort of redemption. The Isle of France is an antiquated name for Mauritius, which was a French colony until 1814, when it was ceded to Britain following the Napoleonic wars.  See the YouTube video embedded in this page for a lesson about how to play the song on the guitar.


C                                   F
Oh the sky was dark      and the night advanced,

G7                      C         (play B in bass)               C          F                Dm7
When a convict came                                to the Isle of France,

G7                       C         (play B in bass)              C             F                Dm7
And around his leg                                    was a ring and chain,

G7                        C      F                                 C
And his country was       of the Shamrock Green.


Oh the sky was dark and the night advanced,

When a convict came to the Isle of France,

And around his leg was a ring and chain,

And his country was of the Shamrock Green.

"I am from the Shamrock," the convict cried,

"I have been tossed on the ocean wide.

For being unruly, I do declare,

I was doomed to transport these seven long years."

"When six of them were up and past,

I was coming home to make up the last.

When the winds did blow, and the seas did roar:

And they cast me here on this foreign shore."

Then the coastguard, he played a part,

And with some brandy he cheered the convict's heart -

"Although the night is far advanced,

You shall find a friend on the Isle of France."

So he sent a letter all to the Queen,

Concerning the wreck of the Shamrock Green;

And his freedom came by a speedy post,

For the absent convict they thought was lost.

"God bless the coastguard," the convict cried,

"For he's saved my life from the ocean wide.

I'll drink his health in a flowing glass,

And here's success to the Isle of France."